Blasts kill 17 Iraqis as militants target police

AT least 17 Iraqis were killed yesterday in a series of explosions that targeted police and US forces.

Near Kirkuk, 12 policemen who were dismantling an apparent decoy bomb were killed by another explosion. Three others were injured.

Brigadier Sarhat Qadir said the explosion occurred as a group of police were trying to cordon off the area. He said officials believed the bomb being dismantled was a decoy to draw in more police before the second bomb exploded.

In Baghdad, a US convoy was hit by a car bomb that killed five Iraqis and injured four US contract workers.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, said it carried out the Baghdad attack.

The explosion left charred and burning cars on the infamous airport road.

“A member of our martyrdom seekers’ brigade mingled in an American military convoy at the airport road and exploded himself, destroying the infidels,” al-Qaida in Iraq said in an internet statement.

The car bomb was among four explosions that rocked central Baghdad early yesterday, the military said. A second car bomb did not cause any damage, and the third blast was a “secondary explosion” nearby, the military said.

The military gave no information on the fourth explosion, but twin blasts exploded near a convoy of two US Humvees and a fuel tanker as it made its way through an eastern Baghdad neighbourhood, witnesses at the scene said. The truck burned violently and sent up a large plume of black smoke visible across Baghdad.

In a separate incident in a suburb of the central city of Hillah, three Iraqi civilians were wounded early yesterday when unidentified assailants opened fire on passersby from speeding cars, the Polish-led force responsible for security in the area said.

The violence came as United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top deputy, Robert Zoellick, arrived in the war-battered capital yesterday on a one-day visit following a trip to Iraq by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, US troops battled arms smugglers and fighters near the Iraqi town of Qaim along the Syrian border, killing nine insurgents.

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